There was a chance Tyler White’s days as a Dodger were over when he was designated for assignment last week. But he cleared waivers, was outrighted from the 40-man roster and invited to major league camp. So he was at Camelback Ranch for the team’s first full-squad workout Tuesday knowing it was awkward.
White, the only Dodgers position player who appeared in games for the 2017 Houston Astros, was surrounded by people who have over the last month publicly blasted his former teammates for their illegal sign-stealing scheme. Cody Bellinger said he lost respect for all of them. Ross Stripling said he would probably plunk them if he could. Enrique Hernández said they stole the 2017 World Series title from the Dodgers and got away with it. The criticism has been loud and relentless.
“It’s tough,” White said. “I’ve gotten to know all these guys. It’s a tough situation. You don’t really know what to say. It’s hard to say. These guys are just a great group of guys. I don’t really know what to say other than that.”
White established himself as a major leaguer with Houston. He debuted in 2016 and spent parts of four seasons with the club before being traded to the Dodgers in July. At the time, it was a minor move made to bolster depth for the stretch run.
A few months later, when the Astros’ scheme was first reported, the transaction suddenly wasn’t so insignificant. In his first public comments on the scandal, White acknowledged Tuesday his former club’s illegal actions, but declined to discuss the matter in detail.
“It was wrong and other than that I don’t really have any comment on it,” White said. “I look forward to being here.”
White, 29, did not provide a direct answer when asked whether he benefited from the Astros’ cheating at Minute Maid Park, which included banging trash cans to communicate the type of pitch to hitters in real time. He emphasized that he didn’t spend much time in the majors that season (22 games).
White was called up in late July for a short period before being demoted to triple A and recalled in September when rosters expanded. He wasn’t on Houston’s postseason roster.
“Did I use it? I really wasn’t there that year,” White said.
White was significantly better at home than on the road in 2017. He was 10 for 30 (.333) with three home runs and three doubles in 33 plate appearances at Minute Maid Park. On the road, the first baseman was seven for 31 (.226) with no home runs and three doubles in 34 plate appearances.
According to research compiled by Astros fan Tony Adams and available on signstealingscandal.com, bangs could be heard before 28 of the 106 pitches White saw in 2017.
White acknowledged that the sign stealing was against the rules and expressed remorse.
“What happened, the way it was just taken to too high of a level, the way it was worked, the technology, and everything [was wrong],” White said.
Now White just wants to move on. A change to his thyroid medication helped him shed significant weight in the offseason after a one-for-22 showing with the Dodgers and ending the season on the injured list.
“I feel good this year and I’m just excited to start playing baseball again,” White said. “It’s been awhile.”
Terrance Gore is signed
The Dodgers signed Terrance Gore to a minor league contract with experimentation in mind. Gore, 28, is a speedster who has spent parts of six seasons in the majors as a pinch-running specialist who dabbles in the outfield. He has 40 steals in 49 tries and only 77 plate appearances in 100 regular-season games. In nine playoff games, he has batted only twice but stolen five bases.
A player with the specialized skill set, the Dodgers decided, could warrant the 26th roster spot teams have been given starting this season. The 26th man, the league ruled, must be a position player.
“With our front office and having that niche player that can impact the game off the bench, potentially defensively, is a conversation,” manager Dave Roberts said. “And to bring a player like that in is good in the clubhouse and could make sense.”